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These chocolate treats make great gifts and delicious holiday desserts

By Tanya Kelley

 

Issue #42 • November/December, 1996

Just in case the world comes to an end, I plan on keeping plenty of chocolate on hand in my food storage. That is, if I can keep out of it. The trouble is, aside from just eating plain chocolate, there are too many delicious ways to use chocolate.

Although I have met one person who doesn't like chocolate, it's a pretty safe bet that holiday gifts of chocolate will be a hit. Fortunately they also meet my other requirements for gifts: inexpensive and quick to make. One size fits all, and no one will complain if you give everyone their own box of chocolates. No more struggling to find something for the person who has everything. And best of all, your recipient will need more again next year.

Here are a few of my favorites for gift giving as well as holiday entertaining. The cookies and candies below all keep well and ship well. Packaged in a box, they make a gift that few can resist.

Dark moons

These buttery cookies will melt in your mouth. Makes three dozen.

1 cup butter (not margarine)
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup of rolled oats
1 7-ounce chocolate bar, milk or dark chocolate
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and rolled oats. Sift flour and baking soda together and add to mix. Mix thoroughly. Shape dough in a two-inch roll and chill in refrigerator for one hour. Slice in 1/4" slices. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 325° for 25 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned. When the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate until it can be stirred smooth. Dip the side of each cookie in the chocolate, rotating it to make the crescent moon shape.

Dark moons and turtles

Turtles
Quick and easy. Makes 30 candies.
4 ounces shelled peanuts (preferably jumbo)
3-ounce milk chocolate bar
30 caramel candies
  
Preheat oven to 300°. Unwrap candies and place on buttered cookie sheet. Place in oven, bake for eight minutes, until caramels are soft but not runny. Push two peanuts in center and five around the outside of the caramel to make legs and head. Let cool. Melt chocolate. Spoon chocolate on top of caramels to make a "shell." Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Milk chocolate truffles
Use either chocolate chips or chocolate bars for this rich candy. Dark chocolate can be substituted for the outer coating if desired. Makes 15 to 20 candies.
12 ounces milk chocolate (divide in half)
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup whipping cream
1 Tablespoon shortening
Sprinkles or finely chopped nuts
Melt half of chocolate and butter until it stirs smoothly. Stir in whipping cream. Refrigerate 30 minutes until stiff enough to form into balls. Freeze balls 30 minutes. Heat shortening, adding remaining chocolate until melted. Using a spoon, dip frozen balls in the melted coating until covered. Place on wax paper. Sprinkle tops with nuts or sprinkles before chocolate hardens. Chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Truffles and chocolate caramels

Chocolate caramel
Chewy and chocolatey. Makes 81 candies.
1 cup butter
2¼ cups brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup light corn syrup
15 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (depending on preference)
Butter a 9x9 pan. In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Slowly stir in the milk. Add chocolate. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until candle thermometer reads 245°, when a small spoonful of the mixture dropped in a glass of cold water will form a firm ball. (Test with fresh water each time.) Cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into square pan. When cool, cut into one-inch squares.

The desserts below are perfect for holiday get-togethers. The ingredients might look expensive, but when compared to store-bought confections, you save a bundle. (After all, you don't have the added expense of all the preservatives!)

kelley42_3.jpg - 10372 Bytes Chocolate cheesecake

Triple chocolate cheesecake
The crust is a little crunchy when cutting, but the rich taste will melt in your mouth. Serves eight.

Filling

2 eggs
8 ounces softened cream cheese
½ cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups sour cream
3 Tablespoons cocoa

Crust

1½ cups crushed Oreo cookies (about 10 cookies)
¼ cup butter
½ of a 1½-ounce chocolate bar

Crust

Melt butter and chocolate. Stir together until smooth. Mix well with cookie crumbs. Press the mixture on sides and bottom of a nine-inch cake or pie pan. Set aside.

Filling

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake for 35 minutes. Chill before serving. If desired, drizzle top with melted chocolate or any remaining cookie crumbs. Top with whipped cream.

Chocolate raspberry torte

Chocolate raspberry torte
It only looks like you spent days making it! Serves 8 to 12.

Cake

1 devil's food cake mix
butter for cake

Filling

2 cups raspberries or pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3 cups whipping cream, whipped
½ cup confectioner's sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 1½-ounce milk chocolate bar, shaved into curls (use a potato peeler)
Maraschino cherries for garnish

Mix cake as directed on box, except replace the oil with the same amount of butter. Bake in a greased (not floured) nine-inch round pan according to directions. Let cool.

Mix sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add fruit. Boil for three minutes. If using raspberries, you might want to strain the syrup to remove any seeds.

Whip whipping cream on High until stiff. Add sifted confectioner's sugar and vanilla. Mix in.

Cut each cake layer into two layers (see * below), to make four layers. Place one layer, cut side up, on serving tray. Drizzle one-third of syrup mixture on layer. Spread one fourth of the whipped cream on top but not on sides. Place next layer of cake, cut side up, on first layer. Repeat topping with syrup and whipping cream with the next two layers. For remaining layer, place cut side down. Top with whipped cream, shaved chocolate, and cherries.

*A quick and neat way to cut a cake layer is to evenly space four toothpicks around the layer in the middle of the sides. Place a piece of sewing thread around the sides, resting on the toothpicks. Cross the ends of the thread and gently pull. The thread will cut evenly from the sides into the center, splitting the layer in two.

Tips for cooking with chocolate

Chocolate scorches easily, so heat on a very low heat in a thick-bottomed pan or in the oven at a low temperature.

If microwaving chocolate, stir every 15 seconds until melted. Do not overcook.

Do not let water get in the chocolate. The chocolate will harden into a lumpy mess.

To keep melted chocolate from cooling while working, place the container on a heating pad.

You can use any kind of chocolate bar for the treats above, but I prefer Hershey's or Nestle's.

Any of the recipes above can be made using white chocolate in place of the milk chocolate.




Read More by Tanya Kelley

Read More Food & Recipes Articles

 
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